Thursday, February 28, 2013

Confessions of a Porn Schlock Queen



[This week's a solo post by Kym]

Seems like this quote by Moliere can come full circle: Writing is like prostitution. First you do it for love, and then for a few close friends, and then for money.

“A writing whore? Not me!” you cry. “I am an artist surrendering to a passion that forces me to put words on paper.”

Remember your first stab at it in middle school? The angst of adolescence prevailed, and you penned a few poems about love and death. You adored your words. They peeled away social proprieties and exposed the raw you. They expressed how you felt about life! Even though you hadn’t experienced much of it. Sometimes you even showed your work to a few people, close friends who wouldn’t offer much criticism.

For some of us, the writing obsession endured. We excelled in high school English; we earned creative writing degrees. Eventually we marched into the world with our special skills, working as journalists, magazine contributors and press agents. Some of us published books. We love our words and these are honorable careers. Does that still make us prostitutes?

Yep. It does.

Think about it. We are all slaves to the deadline pimp, even if we didn’t initially consider ourselves “soiled literary doves.” No matter who we are or what we end up doing, we have to pay the rent and daycare. We need money for groceries and gas. We keep our computers updated so we have something to write on. If we are lucky enough to work as fulltime writers, money still matters.

A few years ago, I had a job with an Internet search engine. Every week I wrote three hundred one-paragraph descriptions that extolled the virtues of this or that website. My beat even included the porn sites, which no one else on the team would take. It became a miserable occupation. I didn’t care what I wrote, and you wouldn’t want to know what I wrote.

So I had become a mercenary porn schlock queen bent on making a buck. For me, at that time, the ultimate goal was getting that check in the mail. I was a writing prostitute and not very ashamed to admit it. Instead of working on my back, I pushed to meet deadlines with the worst possible prose.

Moliere was right. Almost. I started out loving my words and eventually ended up getting paid for them. Now the full circle part: I hardly rake in any bucks for my words these days, with the exception of a few royalties now and then. But I adore the words that I co-write with my husband, Mark. It comes with a different kind of reimbursement.

Go out there. Make money. Become a literary prostitute. Isn’t that the final destination of every great or would-be-great writer? Just remember to back up a little and appreciate the words you once loved.